Valerie June Hockett (born January 10, 1982), known as Valerie June, is an Americana singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Memphis, Tennessee. Her sound encompasses a mixture of folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian and bluegrass. She is signed to Sunday Best label in the UK/Europe and Concord Music Group in North America.
June relocated to Memphis in 2000 and began recording and performing at the age of 19, initially with her then-husband Michael Joyner, in the duo Bella Sun. After her marriage ended she began working as a solo artist, combining blues, gospel and Appalachian folk, in a style that she describes as “organic moonshine roots music”, and learning guitar, banjo, and lap-steel guitar. She became associated with the Memphis-based Broken String Collective.
In 2009 she was a featured artist on MTV’s online series $5 Cover (following the lives of Memphis musicians attempting to make ends meet), and in 2010 she recorded the EP Valerie June and the Tennessee Express, a collaboration with The Old Crow Medicine Show.
In 2011 she was honored by the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission at the Emissaries of Memphis Music event. She raised funds to record an album with producer Craig Street via Kickstarter.com, raising $15,000 in 60 days. Later that year she relocated from Memphis to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shortly after, record producer Kevin Augunas introduced June to Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, which led to the recording of June’s album Pushin’ Against a Stone in July 2011, which was co-written and produced by Dan Auerbach and Kevin Augunas.
In 2012, June performed with producer John Forté on a collaboration called Water Suites (on the hip-hop-blues song “Give Me Water”), and with Meshell Ndegeocello on the song “Be My Husband”. She contributed the The Wandering’s 2012 album Go on Now, You Can’t Stay Here: Mississippi Folk Music Volume III. In 2012 she performed in the United Kingdom for the first time, playing at Bestival and appearing on Later… with Jools Holland.
She has received substantial radio play in Europe on BBC Radio 6, including a feature on Cerys on 6 with Cerys Matthews. Mary Anne Hobbs of XFM has said of June “This woman has already touched my heart, she really, really has.”
In February 2013, June was invited to support Jake Bugg on the UK leg of his tour. In March 2013, June performed two nights at South By Southwest. The first performance was on March 14 as part of the Heartbreaker Banquet. On March 16, June performed again, this time as part of The Revival Tour.
After self-releasing three albums, her debut album as a signed artist, Pushin’ Against a Stone, was released in the UK and Europe through Sunday Best Recordings on May 6, 2013, and through Concord Music Group in August 2013. The album includes several songs co-written with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who co-produced it with Kevin Augunas. The album was so titled to commemorate the story of her life. June said “I feel I’ve spent my life pushing against a stone. And the jobs I’ve had have been fitting for getting a true feel for how the traditional artists I loved came home after a hard day to sit on the porch and play tunes until bedtime.” The record includes performances by Booker T. Jones, who co-wrote one of the songs contained on the album. The track “Workin’ Woman Blues” was produced and engineered by Peter Sabák in Budapest.
The two singles released in the UK and Europe were “Workin’ Woman Blues” and “You Can’t Be Told”.
In 2014, June was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the ‘Best New Artist Debut’ category for Pushin’ Against a Stone.
6th Feb 2014
Denver, United States